Without images of beauty and perfection, it would be difficult to give the right look back to the audience (potential consumer of a product; clothes, make up, hotel, shoes, car, etc.) to stimulate their interest through their visual senses. But where is all of this work done? New York? Tokyo? Paris? Hong Kong? London? Milano? Yes to all of these locations and more. It’s not easy being an international model, flying from location to location (sounds glamorous though), meeting new people (and missing your friends) and trying new cuisine at exotic eateries (I think there is a McDonald’s in every global city). But all visualizing aside, it is a job of putting on clothes and make up for the right look and being compensated rather handsomely for doing so. Not a bad gig. This brings back some lines from a movie I enjoyed named Lord of War, “I put clothes on for a living. True, but it is better to be putting them ON than taking them OFF.” I couldn’t agree more. One young woman who is flown around the globe and is painted by make up artists everyday and dressed by stylists is Alina Krasina (who also contributes to this publication between sushi breaks, I mean jobs). The work can mean not only the fundamentals of eating well, sleeping well, exercise and so forth – but can also mean extremely long hours in conditions of nature that are not always human friendly.
Often models wrap up a shoot for a catalogue or magazine and just when they thought the day might end early (or on time), the whole team has to start over. Why? The photographer or art director may decide they prefer a different look or style, thus scrapping the entire days work to begin all over. This could be fantastic provided the model is compensated by the hour. It could be a cash strong day for her and her agency no matter how tedious the re-work may be. But if on a fixed day rate, it could be as tiresome but more disappointing. The work is often routine regardless of how glamorous a location or end placement of publication. There are make up artists, photographers, stylists, decision makers, some people who just stand around and no one knows why there are even there, and finally some very helpful assistants that might be so kind as to go and locate an aspirin or a juice for a model in need.
It’s a long day in the studio and there isn’t time for lunch. Maybe she (the model) is starving, maybe not. Perhaps she has a slight cold or sore throat settling in because she couldn’t sleep well do to the time difference after landing (jetlag) and could use a 20 minute cat nap and some green tea. But there isn’t green tea or Advil in sight nor does anyone care. Why? It could be partially due to none of them speak her language or even English that well. Sad but a bit humorous, everyone in the room speaks their own language and they communicate with English (perhaps some in broken English) in a studio or location in a country thousands of miles from the US, the UK or any other English speaking nation. What does she do? She keeps smiling for the camera and working because the day is still going strong. A model almost has to hold her breath all day long and can only actually breath once the work day is over. I’m not speaking of the ones who run around to castings all day and smoke cigarettes to suppress their appetite. I’m referring to booked models that are in the studio or on location from morning to night as their agency is billing the client for the work. This is not to undervalue the efforts of the models running to castings and having their portraits taken by various photographers (some photographers try to get more than the photo done) and then these models post those everywhere on Facebook or Instagram as work. I’m not trying to undermine that at all. But there are levels of any career so let’s just focus on the working level for this article.
Maybe it’s just luck and looks that puts the model into that door, booked on her first big job, which triggers being desired by other clients to put her on the cover or making her the face of their product. I don’t have the answer nor am I really concerned with finding it out. But if I were to guess, it would probably be leaning somewhere more towards attitude and work ethic from the model. The can do attitude for work with a positive work ethic (and who looks good, well rested, not like some of these models who club all night long and show up half hung-over to a shoot) and relays in action, that attitude, to the camera on the job at hand.
If a client simply adores a model and puts her to work with a production team for a campaign and the model has a poor attitude, can’t translate the intended message to the lens or just is a nightmare to work with (special needs such a cigarette breaks or on the phone too much), her career may be on the down swing. No matter how beautiful she may be, the photographer and team will convey this message to the client and agency in some way. The model may not work with the client again, which may not be a large loss, but probably never work again with the team – which could be damaging. It goes without mentioning that the agency would drop her down the ranks or perhaps keep her going strong until they find a look-alike replacement. The industry is composed of not only the model in front of the camera but the entire group of people behind the camera that produce the final results. Sure there are thousands of photographers, make up artists, stylists, etc. around the world. However, word travels fast in this ever shrinking global industry thanks to technology (those damn emails).
So modeling, as glamorous as it may sound to a teenage girl who aspires to be one versus going to college or the delusional late twenty something year old who still wants to be one, is kind of like many other industries. You need skills, connections, a good work record with ethics (maybe a nice pair of legs wouldn’t hurt), a positive outlook and you have to climb through a few hoops to get lucky. Ok, there is one difference, I suppose you have to be born pretty or at least have a face that a make up artist loves to paint and a body that a photographer wants to shoot nude (sneaky photographers). But, when the competition is comprised of other equally beautiful models, then it comes down to the basics again it would seem. It’s like having two incredibly ripe tomatoes but only one is good for your cheeseburger. One is sour and one is sweet. Most would probably like to put the sweet tomato onto their food as it would compliment the flavour and bring it all together. Such is the same with a beautiful model who values the end flavour in her results…